America has a new grasscourt threat after No. 6 seed Steve Johnson captured his first career title on Saturday at the Aegon Open Nottingham, winning 7-6(5), 7-5 over Pablo Cuevas.
He improved to 1-1 in career finals after last year falling to David Ferrer in the Vienna championship match.
“It’s special,” Johnson said of the win. “There’s no doubt about that. It makes it even more special to have my dad, girlfriend, coach, trainer and agent here. To share that moment with everybody is definitely something I’ll never forget.
The 26-year-old American won the first set tiebreaker after neither player was broken on serve in the opening set. In the second set he broke at 2-1, then after losing serve, broke again in the 11th game and rode out the set for the championship.
Johnson beat four seeded opponents, including top-seeded Kevin Anderson in the quarterfinals. He is projected to rise to a career-high No. 29 on the ATP rankings.
“I take lots of confidence from this,” Johnson added. “Any time you can be the last guy standing at a tournament is definitely a great feeling. I’m super happy, but pretty tired emotionally from stopping and starting so much with the rain the past few days. Starting Monday comes Wimbledon, so there’s no time to relax with another but tournament right around the corner.”
Cuevas fell to 5-2 in career finals, this year winning claycourt titles at Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. He was attempting to become the first South American to win a grasscourt title since Nicolas Pereira in 1996 at Newport.
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